Nerve agent countermeasures become top DoD priority

The development of medical countermeasures against nerve agents has recently become a top priority for the U.S. Department of Defense.

DOD military analysts believe the future use of chemical agents by enemy forces or a terrorist organization against either U.S. troops or civilian targets is possible, according to

Scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency believe bioscavengers have the potential to reduce the toxicity of chemical warfare nerve agents and should have few, if any, behavioral or psychological side effects.

Human butrylcholineterase, a bioscavenger that binds a nerve agent in the blood stream before it can attack the central nervous system, appears to be a definite improvement over existing treatments. Preliminary research on recombinant butrylcholineterase supports its use as the DOD’s next generation countermeasure against nerve agents.

DARPA is confident enough that it has planned a Proposer’s Day workshop on January 20 to provide information on a butrylcholineterase expression in plants initiative that seeks to demonstrate how the countermeasure can be expressed using a pharmaceutical platform in Nicotiana benthamiana plants.

"This project will build on the Blue Angel H1 influenza vaccine acceleration program and will show the versatility and flexibility of the plant expression platform for medical countermeasures," DARPA executive Dr. Alan Magill said, reports.

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U.S. Department of Defense

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